Felipe Massa scores flawless win at Valencia (2008 European GP review)

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Felipe Massa dominated the European Grand Prix at the new Valencia track

Felipe Massa is a hard man to beat from pole position and so it proved once again in the European Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton never managed to get on terms with the Ferrari driver but second place means he retains the lead in the drivers’ championship.

But Massa is being investigated by the FIA stewards for an incident where he left the pits and almost hit Force India’s Adrian Sutil.

Felipe Massa led away at the start while Lewis Hamilton scrambled across from the dirty side of the grid to defend his second place from Robert Kubica. He got out of turn two ahead of Kubica but by the end of the first lap Massa was already 1.4s up the road.

The predictions of collisions on the first lap came true and as far as the crowd were concerned it was the worst possible outcome. Fernando Alonso was hit from behind by Kazuki Nakajima and the home driver headed to the pits to retire.

Further around the lap David Coulthard spun off and dropped to the rear of the field. He rejoined the track and quickly moved past Rubens Barrichello and Nelson Piquet Jnr. But his attempt to pass Adrian Sutil’s Force India was over-optimistic and the pair collided, Coulthard spinning off.

Up ahead Massa quickly established a lead over Hamilton, with a 2.9s advantage by lap six, then 4.4s by lap 14.

At first Kubica dropped back at a similar rate but on lap eight he suddenly lost three seconds and fell into the clutches of Heikki Kovalainen and Kimi Raikkonen – the Finns having swapped places at the start. But Kubica got his head down and re-established a three second advantage over Kovalainen.

This had consequences when the two leaders made their pit stops as Massa came out in front of Raikkonen following his pit stop on lap 15. Hamilton went only two laps further – setting a new fastest lap on the way, and came out behind Raikkonen. Raikkonen was shortly in as well however, and following Kubica and Kovalainen’s pit stops Massa took over the lead again.

Raikkonen’s stop left him behind Timo Glock, who was one-stopping, which allowed Kovalainen to extend his advantage.

The race was extremely processional with all the leaders gradually getting further away from each other in the middle part of the race. Massa extended his lead over Hamilton to 8.3 seconds with Kubica even further behind.

But when Massa came in for his pit stop on lap 37 it started to go wrong for Ferrari. Massa left his pit box as Adrian Sutil was passing by, and had to drive alongside the Force India as the headed towards the pit lane exit. The stewards announced they would decide whether he had been illegally released into the path of another car after the race.

Six laps later Raikkonen came in and he also left his pit box too early. The fuel hose was still attached and as he set off it dragged at least one member of his pit crew to the ground before he came to a halt.

He was later released but only lasted a few more laps before his engine failed – possibly related to the extra time spent idling in the pits.

But all the excitement was in the pits. Out on the track the cars simply slotted into place after their various pit stops and few were able to get close enough to race for position. But far from being the ‘fault’ of the design of the track, this was the same old story of F1 cars not being able to get close enough to each other to race because of their aerodynamics.

Aside from a problematic pit stop Massa’s drive was utterly crushing. Ferrari have often had the better car on hot days when using the softer tyres, but he maximised that advantage in a way Raikkonen seemed incapable of – and not for the first time this year.

Hamilton’s second place means he retains the lead in the drivers’ championship with six points over Massa and 13 over Raikkonen.

Kubica took a hard-earned third place and is still within 15 points of Hamilton in the title race. But Kovalainen, fourth today, has fallen 27 points behind and surely he will be resigned to supporting Hamilton soon.

Sebastian Vettel delivered on the excellent pace Toro Rosso showed this weekend by finishing sixth – the same position he started in, only losing a place to Jarno Trulli (fifth). Glock made it two Toyotas in the points with an excellent run to seventh from 13th on the grid. Nico Rosberg scored the final point – his first since the Turkish Grand Prix.

Only Adrian Sutil joined Raikkonen and Alonso in retirement, and the expectations of a safety car-filled race proved unfounded. The European Grand Prix was short on drama, but if the stewards take a dim view of Ferrari’s pit lane tactics there could be a final twist yet to come.

Update: Felipe Massa did not receive a penalty

Lewis Hamilton was booed by the crowd but finished second

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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57 comments on “Felipe Massa scores flawless win at Valencia (2008 European GP review)”

  1. Looks like Massa has been fined so no chance of losing out a second win on the trot – which personally I’m quite glad (but surprised) to see.

  2. I thought he should have got a ‘drive through penalty’. Failing that a 10 place grid penalty at the next race.

  3. Altogether a very boring processional race. Massa should not be penalised as he did a great job, but Ferrari should have their constructors ponts stripped for the unsafe exit of car number 2. Massa did well to spot Sutil in his mirrors and avoid another serious pit lane incident.

  4. Shocking decision in my book. What sort of precedent does that set? No one cares about a fine. You will see teams launching cars in front of others all the time now (well not all the time, but when needed) and the offending team will just point to the Massa incident.

    He should of got a drive through, finished 2nd, and effectively lost 2 points. I think that would of been fair.

  5. Yep confrimed on Autosport vhttp://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/70038 so the FIA have confirmed that the incident was no more serious than crossing the white line on entering or exiting the pits or speeding in the pits – why bother having rules if the penalty is worthless?

  6. Another example of bending the rules for Ferrari. If anyone disagrees, please find similar examples where the driver/team escaped punishment.

  7. I just don’t understand stewards, how can this incident been seen as less serious than holding someone up on a qualifying lap? This is a clear breach of the safety rules just like overtaking under waved yellows and should be punished in just the same way.

    At minimum ferrari should have lost constructor points for today’s pit incidents. Exactly why did mclaren loss their hungary points last year just because alonso held up hamilton yet ferrari release a car early and drag a pit member down the pit lane with no penalty – something is wrong here!

  8. I totally agree with your comments Twister, I am very surprised at the decision.

  9. Does the F in FIA stand for Ferrari???

  10. Most boring race ever,was there one overtake in race???…Ferrari and Kimi was so bad also!! Massa did fabulous job, hat for Him…

  11. How can this be flawless, his team was deemed to commit a serious safety fault for which they received a fine, any other team would have received a drive through penalty at least for this reckless and potentially very dangerous behavior but as it was Ferrari they effectively get away with it.

  12. I think i’ve have seen on more than one occasion, teams trying to send a car out before their competitors, who also happened to be in the pits. Cars were real close to each other, almost touched, with no penalty to any of the teams so far. In a couple of cases, cars exited the pit-lane side-by-side for that matter, yet attracted no penalty. I was really surprised to see this being reported(by the stewards), as it is the first time in more than a decade that i see this come up.

  13. Great race by Massa, he certainly deserved this victory. And no, he did not deserve to have the victory taken away from him. But I do believe the punishment should have been more severe, it should be directed at Ferrari, not Massa. Maybe a larger fine. Massa did well to prevent an accident.

    I can’t saw I am surprised with people complaining about a Ferrari bias. While I can’t recall specific examples, a few times has this type of incident has occurred and no penalty at all was given.

    Impressive races by Kubica, Trulli and Vettel today.

  14. M Smith: Thanks for corroborating the fact that no penalties in recent past have been imposed at all, leave alone disqualifying the team or driver or both.

    Vettel, Trulli and Glock did a good job with the race today.

  15. Hold on a minute! Alonso holds up hamilton and we can’t score constructor points and raikonnan leaves the pits nearly killing his a member of the crew and don’t even get a slap on the wrist.

    This is in breach of safety regulations and just shows the clear bias behaviour towards ferrari. I agree with you Twister.

  16. About the pit lane thing… Almost the same thing happened in the GP2 race and the same stewards gave that driver a drive-through penalty. What’s the point handing Ferrari a small fine when the constructors points the gain by holding on to the win is worth much more in real money from FIA? And not only did Ferrari do a lousy job almost taking out a car from a “lesser” team (they obviously expect teams at the end of the grid to always let them past no matter what…), Massa showed that he don’t know the rules by being upset on the driver he should have let by without driving dangerously. This is just absurd. If it were Sutil exiting the pit in that way, you can be sure he had gotten a drive-through within 5 laps of the incident.

    I am kinda intrigued that the race was so boring. There were several good overtaking opportunities on the track. But still, after only 2 laps, the cars were lined up with 1 second between each of them and then the parade begun. Was there any overtaking at all on the track? Right now, I only remember Coulthard’s (of course) stupid move on another car.

    I really don’t get the logic when handing penalties in F1 anymore, and that together with races without any action whatsoever has taken me to a point when I actually starting to lose a great deal of my fascination for F1. Today, I started to tape the race after about one hour and was out in the summer sun instead. And that when F1 comes to a new “exciting” track! Something clearly has to be done about the basic of the sport. The hell with traditions and such – have the courage to create something that aging reminds the spectators of true motor racing between drivers.

  17. I agree with sassan. This stinks. Financial penalties mean nothing to drivers and teams. Points are what hurt when you are in a championship race. Farrari released Massa in a unsafe way and Kimi nearly ran over the refueling guy by leaving before his light was green. Once again it seems if you drive a red car you can push the boundaries that little bit further.

  18. Sassan, this is clear, blind, anti-Ferrari bias.

    Yes, Raikkonen didn’t even get ‘a slap on the wrist’ for the accident.
    Barrichello in Australia ’08 – exactly the same incident – didn’t get ‘a slap on the wrist’.
    Button in San Marino ’06 – exactly the same incident – didn’t get ‘a slap on the wrist’.

  19. absolute joke, but we have learned to expect nothing less from the FIA

  20. M Smith, if my memory serves me correctly in both Honda incidents you refer to the lolipop man was a bit keen to lift the stick. In todays incident, Kimi was racing Heikki out of the pits and left before the the light went green.

  21. ‘Flawless’? Doesn’t the rank, stinking fix of a fine instead of a drive through penalty count as a ‘flaw’ then? And to blame Sutil was ludicrous. Expect M Smith to accuse me of ‘clear, blind anti-Ferrari bias’ now. Perhaps if the stewards dispensed justice as it should be, without fear or favour, there wouldn’t be any need for us to have to comment on these issues. Their clear, blind pro-Ferrari bias every other race requires us to do so, sadly.

  22. On the flawless thing – my point is his performance was flawless. On a new, fast, dusty, barrier-lined track he never put a wheel wrong. I don’t think I even saw him lock a brake. It was a first class drive.

    Yes, his team released him from the pits in the path of another car. But Massa’s not in control of when his team tell him to go and he probably had no idea Sutil was there until he came out of his pit box. I’m not saying this should go unpunished, I’m not even saying the team should be punished instead of Massa. But give Massa credit when he’s due it. This was an excellent performance from him, one I would not have put a penny of my own money on at the start of the season.

  23. “But Massa’s not in control of when his team tell him to go”

    Interesting. I thought the rules were such that the driver SHOULD be in control whatever somebody else tell him/her.

  24. @Spencer

    The light you refer to was not the pitlane light, but Ferrari’s own light which is in-lieu of the lollipop man. This type of incident has never been penalised, nor should it be IMO.

    The type of incident with Massa is a different matter, altho still not requiring a penalty IMO, based on the precendents set by previous F1 incidents which were never penalised.

  25. Come on now, did any one expect anything else from FIA.
    Felipe, was never in any danger of the win being taken away from him. Now if Lewis or Heikki had done the same as Felipe in the pit lane, it is clear what the outcome would be. Drive in or 10 places next race.
    It’s a shame because it clouds what was a good race by Felipe.

  26. LMAO at all you!!!!
    Obviously hangin on every word of the ITV wallies…

    If it was soooo unsafe where was the accident….Hamilton fans including ITV were wishing further bad luck on wee Massa who was obviously the best driver of the weekend!

    Face facts

  27. Keith is right. Massa did drive well, he even avoided a serious accident in the pit lane. This is why I feel that Ferrari should have been given a penalty not Massa. No constructors points would have been a much more sensible outcome than a fine.

  28. Oh and Massa for the championship!!!! Cmon you reds!

  29. From the Canadian Grand Prix discussion (where Hamilton was blinded by a red light and crashed into Kimi):

    Was Kimi Raikkonen let out of his pit box too soon?

    In the aftermath of the Raikkonen / Hamilton / Rosberg pit collision, some people wondered whether a contributory cause was that Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica were side-by-side at the pit exit, rather than one in front of the other. This happened because Ferrari allowed Raikkonen out of his pit box as Kubica was passing, meaning they drove down the pit lane side-by-side.

    Is this illegal? Not necessarily. The sporting regulations say:

    23 i) It is the responsibility of the competitor to release his car after a pit stop only when it is safe to do so.

    In other words, it’s up to the race stewards whether Ferrari were right to let Raikkonen out when they did, and it seems they were happy with it. In a situation where a large group of cars had entered the pits at the same time, it would have been hard to avoid some overlap. But they probably wouldn’t be able to do it in Monaco.

  30. @ DASMAN
    I’m well aware of the Farrari pit system. My comments regarding their “Lolipop” light was addressed to to M Smith and how the Honda cases were team / lolipop error as opposed to driver error. At least Kimi has shown some cocern for Pietro Timpini who he mowed down today and agrees that he made a mistake.

  31. Poor Kimi… This time he couldn´t even score another fastest lap!

  32. Massa should have been given a drive-through penalty. Period. That’s the rule, and it should have happened. For those who say that the Constructor should be punished and not him, Massa is a PART of the Constructor, and thus should have been punished.

    Yet another case of the Ferrari Insurance Agency settling a matter in their favor.

  33. I think the worst decision made by the stewards so far this year was Monaco. Kimi getting a stop-and-go because his mechanics didn’t get his wheels on fast enough while waiting on the grid. The race hadn’t even *started*. No one was endangered. No one got an unfair advantage. And it was the team’s fault, not Kimi’s.

    A small fine to be paid by the team was the appropriate penalty.

    Kimi hasn’t been the same since.

  34. Very lovely race track, beautiful even. However, the race did have the feel of one held in an abandoned town or in a factory complex. The sad reality is F1 has just had an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars for another processional car parade.

    The pitlane in Valencia is very narrow, its not like in Montreal where 2 cars can drive out side by side with enough margin between the 2car. Both Ferrari and Massa deserved to receive a penalty.

    Ferrari, for releasing their car when it was clearly unsafe to do so, and then Massa for not immediately taking precaution and allowing the faster car through.
    The FIA seem to be completely at a loss as to how they evaluate the severity of infringements. Alonso was fined for crossing a white line, and Massa was similarly fined for putting personnel in the pitlane at risk. There is just no consistency and other teams should proceed and contravene the rules and fight it out in court if need be when they feel they are wrongly penalized.

    Massa in the end, drove a very impressive race, I had a feeling the car was working too good that he just had it on cruise control.

  35. Robert Kubica is back on podium again!
    What You think about gossip that Koo-BEETS-a is talking with Honda?

  36. Instead of weeping words about an incident that happens, as long as i can remember, in almost every race without penalty, Ask yourselves why, once again, can’t Hamilton catch Massa-The man not qualified for a F1 Title? as is posted here so often about him.

  37. Fergus – I think it’s an exaggeration to say I always criticise Massa.

    Sometimes I say positive things about him:

    Felipe Massa: great start, awful finish
    Could Felipe Massa do a Prost?
    Changing my mind about Massa

    Sometimes negative:

    Has Felipe Massa been found out?
    The Massa delusion

    But my intention is always to be fair and back up what I say with facts. If you think I’m not being fair about Massa, please show me why and where.

    Of course, other people in this thread think I’ve been too kind about him – see the criticism above about me using the word ‘flawless’. You can’t please everyone all the time…

  38. Great drive from Massa today. Hamilton also turned in a good performance, albeit after a rather flakey start. Kimi got unlucky, but was always going to walk away from this looking glum, given his quali position. Anyone fancy a bet on Luca kicking him out at the end of the season?

    Shame on Team Tilke though for producing a circuit where overtaking just ain’t gonna happen. Let’s just hope they get the paint pots out before next years race so they can mask the grey uniformity that adorns most of this track. Even just “TURN 4” in 4 foot high letters at the appropriate corner would help the viewing public.

    I do find it galling that FOM can remove races from tracks like Spa and Silverstone, where overtaking is a reality, and foist these processions upon us using the excuse of ‘enhanced paddock facilities’. Given that most of F1 money comes from TV rights and the advertising bonanza that goes with it, why should we, the viewing audience, give two hoots about corporate entertainment facilities we are not privvy to.

    Really hope the new raft of changes next year does the trick and that racing will start to take priority again, but somehow I doubt it.

    Okay – rant over. Spa next – thank God!

  39. Salty – couldn’t disagree more about the track. I’m sticking to my “don’t blame the track blame the cars” mantra. The GP2 drivers could race each other, the F1 cars couldn’t. Why? It’s all down to the aerodynamics, as usual.

  40. Keith – there was no overtaking at all today in the F1 race. This circuit was commissioned and designed for F1. Odds on you will see overtaking at Spa, be it wet or dry. I agree the aero has made it much more difficult, but not impossible as we will see in the next round. I am sure Valencia is a great place, but a concrete encased ‘street circuit’ was never going to provide the racing we all wanted to see.

  41. Just a thought about Kimi. Was he worried that his engine was going to blow up like Massa’s did at Hungary? Maybe he turned the rev limiter down a touch for the whole weekend, not that it helped in the end.

  42. Seems Hamilton almost didn’t race this weekend due to runing a fever and neck spasms – if so, second place looks a great achievement.

    Massa’s been annoying me since he boxed in Hamilton off the grid in São Paulo last year to let Kimi get pass LH, and then let Kimi past again via the Ferrari pit stops! Can’t say I’d be that sorry to see him lose out today via a FIA sanction, but there was never any chance of that happening. His comment that Sutil shouldn’t have been ‘racing him’ in the pit lane was absurd and deserved a penalty in itself given that it shows no understanding of the rules and the safety aspects involved, or indeed general fair play in relation to other competitors. The blame obviously goes on Ferrari’s new anti-lollipop scheme, though: penalty or not, shouldn’t FIA have ‘investigated’ that and made a ruling seeing that it provoked two incidents, one potentially serious?

  43. I agree with you Keith. I mean phoenix was a terrible circuit but senna and alesi went at each other hammer and tongs.

    I feel todays race is great testimony to the deep flaws in the FIA. Hungary 2007 was a slightly fair punishment to mclaren and Hamilton in montreal, however today i was expecting a punishment in which would show us that the FIA are not bias towards ferrari. 10 000 fine to someone who is already a millionaire is not enough.

    My punishment would be ferrari stripped of their constructor points.

  44. By Ferrai it was same part of Kimis car what did brake than what did brake Massas car in last race. Ferrari is thinking use “joker” card for next race and change Massas engine, just in case.

    It is supprise that Ferrari have so much technical problems. we have seen things like that last time in somewhere mid 1990.

    FUNNY things about that poor mechanic: 2000 in Barchelona Grand Prix Schumacher broke feet of his mechanic when he left pitlane too early. Mechanic was Nigel Stepney. After that accident Pietro Timpini took over Stepneys job as a fuelling person and now Kimi broke his toe. I think its little bit funny and remind us as well that even Schumi himself did stupid things like that lol.

  45. There is something surprisingly wrong with F1 nowadays.
    Kimi smashed his mechanic and FIA says nothing about it.

    For instance: a driver got punished if he cross the white line. But not if he cross the mechanic.

  46. Fergus Gallas
    25th August 2008, 0:15

    As you can see on my post, i didn’t mention names on it. But it does serves for anyone that feels touched by.
    I enjoy this site, just can’t stand some comments over certain situations/drivers. It’s so partial and mania guided that annoies who’s not on that train.

  47. Have to say that it was the most boring race of the season thus far. I cannot wait till next year as I agree with Keith’s mantra: The track is fine, in fact it’s more than fine, it’s just that the cars aren’t equipt to overtake the way we would like them to. Next year, however, is likely to change that.

    Great drive by Massa, solid by Hamilton and a special big-up to Vettel. Cannot wait to see that guy in a WDC/WCC winning car.

    I’m not going to get into my opinion on the penalty or lack thereof cause I’ve posted it on the other blog.

    All I can say is ‘BRING ON SPA!!’ (my favourite track :-)

  48. Hello Keith

    Ho Hum

    I’m beginning to wonder whether I should stay up until the early hours of Sunday morning while two ginks from Australias Channel 10 pretend a. It’s live, and b. It’s exciting; the race is broadcast here after it’s finished!

    Very Boring.


  49. Um KB, I think you’ll find most people here can’t stand the ITV commentary team (at least, James Allen). In fact some go so far as to watch F1 with the sound off, so your assertion that we are ‘hanging off every word of the ITV wallies’ is misguided to say the least.

    Blind Freddy could see that Massa should have been awarded a penalty. Pity he is not an FIA steward.

  50. For us Brazilians is very difficult to understand why Massa deserved to be punished (and not Ferrari only with points).

    To understand that I needed to put myself in the other`s one mind, imagining if all of this happens in the same way but with Schumacher in Massa´splace.

  51. I have this to say about Valencia in terms of Entertainment Value for F1…

    I got my wife (a casual enthusiast) and her sister to watch to race. Coincidentally, Valencia GP was clashed with Olympics closing ceremony. Before the race, I was telling my wife how exciting Valencia’s going to be. “Honey, it’s a new street circuit in a beautiful setting. But it’s high speed, with chances of overtaking, tough challenges for drivers. I’m sure it’s action packed, let’s get your sister over to watch!” (Her sister is a newbie, and the 3 of us are going to Singapore GP with some mates)

    After a couple laps, the ladies are complaining it’s getting boring (I must agree somewhat), then suggesting watching the Olympics closing ceremony. Reluctantly, I switched over suring commercial break. Then like magic, the ladies are “wowing and ahhing” at the top notch performances (which it was amazing). Now time to swtich over to F1….

    “Honey, dammit! Massa now 5.1 seconds ahead of Hamilton! I wonder if he’s running light” No response from the missus, and actually now both of them flipping through magazines! Another ad-break, the ladies spring back to life with their jaws dropped with the amazing performance by the Chinese. “Hey I wonder when Beckham’s appearing on stage” says my wife… (which of course we missed the moment cuz I was waiting for the second pitstop window)

    No, I’m not saying us lads should not watch F1 with their missus. But, all the money that went into setting up a fascinating Valencia circuit, and all that glamour that comes with F1, is not that appealing to casual fans. Althogh we have a few entertaining races this year (thank god!), but those who watch sports to kill time, are not that entertained by 20 cars going round without any action. Does this explain why TV numbers are down?

  52. Thank you Felipe. It was F…Great!!!HAT TRICK…What else can I talk about? sorry for my poor english…I’m just brazilian jungle guy

  53. FWIW, apparently Kimi’s right cooling exhaust chimney was damaged during the infamous pitstop… it is much more likely that this caused a much more severe cooling issue than the extra few stationary seconds in pit lane, and was a much more direct cause of his engine failure.

  54. ferrari should give Massa the No.1 driver – only 6 races to go..

  55. I’m not qualified to really comment on the race- I was away in Baltimore to see a weekend series by the Yankees, and the hotel’s crummy 30-channel cable package diden’t include Speed network :(

    After reading up on everything that happened, I’ve come to a few conclusions from what I can see:

    – I agree with the assessment that Ferrari- not Massa himself- should be blamed for his car being released with Sutil coming. I’m still trying to figure out the system they use for letting him know he’s good to go, but don’t the drivers trust the crew to give them the all-clear?

    – The lack of overtaking must have been a great disappointment to all of you tuning in live, I know it is for me when we see races like that. I don’t know enough about either circuit design or automotive engineering to give a good opinion, but hopefully things will improve once the new regs come into play next season.

    – Love it or hate it, but the fact of life at ferrari is that Massa is outperforming Kimi on a consistent basis. Even if the race was a procession, he did bag pole and a win on a new track, and that would be two wins in a row if not for bad luck that was none of his fault in Hungary.

    I have nothing against Kimi- he’s a brilliant talent- but Felipe is without a doubt Ferrari’s best bet for the title.

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